Review: 70-200 4L USM

posted on 18th of july, 2012

I debated long and hard before buying this lense. It cost more than I had ever spent on glass before. And what I really wanted was the f2.8. But, if I went with the 2.8, I knew that I would need IS due to the weight of the lense and that added significantly to the cost. Plus, it was heavier to lug around and I love going outdoors and getting nature shots. So, I compromised and treated my self to the f4.

To help you understand where my review might or might not fit your skill level and goals, I will tell you a little about me. I am an aspiring pro photographer. I have managed to sell some photos but I know that I still have a lot to learn to really make microstock work for me. I use a Canon 7D as my primary camera. Once again, it was a compromise due to cost considerations, but it far eclipses my old camera and I don't really have a secondary camera anymore. I always grab the 7D. I read the tech reviews and specifications, but what really matters to me is getting the images that I want.

There's a lot to like about the 700-200 4L. It's high quality glass and produces nice, sharp images. It's light weight enough to tote around without problems and is sturdy in the field. In combination with my skill level, camera body, and the lense itself I find that I would like better low light performance and I frequently will use a tripod in all but very bright conditions. If you have the extra money to spend, I would recommend that you invest in the IS model. I am also a bit disappointed in the bokeh. I'm not able to consistently produce the background that I would like. Since I am sometimes able to achieve the creamy, smooth look I am going for, it is possible that is an issue with my skill and not the lense.

Overall, I love to use this lense and expect to continue to do so for years to come, even after I purchase that still coveted f2.6.

Comments (10)

Posted by Chanevy on April 16, 2017
Hi Qiwoman,

Yes. I have "upgraded" to the 2.8, but I will still be using this lens. It's better for "running around" due to being so much lighter and definitely easier to hand hold.

I like the 2.8 for the creamy background I can achieve, though. I think I will continue to use both lenses a lot. I also upgraded to a 5d Mark III and invested in some heavy duty tripods, so I will likely use the 2.8 exclusively for studio portraits. I didn't get the IS, so either strength training or tripods will be necessary with the 2.8 :-)

The Canon L lenses are real work horses. I try to be careful of my gear, but I'm a klutz! So I appreciate their solid build.
Posted by Qiwoman01 on April 16, 2017
Thanks for the info, are you still using this lens?
Posted by Bradcalkins on July 22, 2012
Definitely enjoying it - which is indeed what it is all about. I think if I was in the market for a p&s d take a serious look at the new Sony RX100 or the Panasonic LX-7. I've never been terribly impressed with the S90/S95 from a stock perspective. But then, that is why I went micro four thirds in the first place! I am a bit of a sucker for new stuff, though :)
Posted by Chanevy on July 22, 2012
It sounds like you are having fun with your new gear and photography should be fun! The primes can deliver a tack sharp photo for less money and easier to carry, so I can see why you like them. I cart my gear everywhere. Someday I'm getting a pocket camera that will serve as a second to go on trips with, maybe the S95 that Babar uses. It's just not in the budget right now.
Posted by Bradcalkins on July 21, 2012
The 70-200mm f/4 is the one lens I miss since going to micro four thirds. That said, most of my move happened becuase I sold that lens. I loved it, but just didn't use it enough to justify the cost, and sold it to buy a GH2 with 14-140mm for kids sports. The size and video got me thinging outside of the Canon/Nikon box, and a couple years later I've sold all my Canon gear and now only really shoot with primes. Still - the 70-200mm Canon was a very nice lens... If you are willing to carry it with you, it always delivers nice results.
Posted by Chanevy on July 20, 2012
The best camera is the one that you have with you, right, Babar760? No camera is much good if you leave it at hope and don't get out and take pictures.

@Martingraf-thankyou. I really try to be positive with people. One of my "other" businesses is life coaching, so your words made me feel good. You have a great port, so your 550D is definitely working for you. I choose the 7D as my first DSLR and it is a huge step up from my EOS Rebel film. I plan to keep it a long time, like you and the 550.
Posted by Babar760 on July 20, 2012
I find that I am selling more and more shots taken with my Canon S95. That also happens to be the camera that I always carry in my shirt pocket. And as Jesus once said when he drove the money changers out of the temple ( Wall Street ), LESS IS MORE!
Posted by Martingraf on July 20, 2012
you know, I like good quality stuff and you did a good choice on both - camera and lens - I'm still sticking with my used, broken and fixed 550D and am amazed how much an entry level camera can take - same with the lenses --- so how much better must it be to have a L lens and a "L" body - anyway, please keep on encouraging people, because I think that's for what everyone respects you most :)
Posted by Chanevy on July 18, 2012
You are very welcome and thank you for your kind words. I do use AV on F4 a lot. I will keep practicing! It's great fun.

I love mine too. I loved it the minute I wrapped my hand around the grip. It feels so good and I think it may be a bit more camera than I was ready for, but I am learning and enjoying.
Posted by Seawatch1 on July 18, 2012
Nice shots Chanevy. On the bokeh thing, if you can try setting your camera to Av and the set the aperture to F4 or wider. Your 7D will compensate on almost everything else even with a flash. BTW. thanks again for your help on the stolen photo thing and I love my 7D.

Comments (10)

This article has been read 1631 times. 2 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Cjh Photography Llc.

About me

I have had a camera in my hand ever since I can remember. I was always the kid that wanted to trot down to the scene of the crime, or truck accident, or whatever, and get the images that would document that event for posterity. I guess its no surprise that I am naturally drawn to editorial and journalistic photography!

Grinnell, US

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